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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Holy War is alive and well

By Eamonn Brennan

Of all of Philly's various Big 5 rivalries, the Holy War -- Villanova versus St. Joe's -- has always been the most intense. In 1983, 18,000 people watched in the Spectrum. Neither school cracks the 10,000-enrollment barrier even now, but for more than two decades, this game has been an event, the kind of rivalry that breeds moments neither fan base will ever forget.

Feel free to add Tuesday night's game to that number.

With 9:51 left in the game, St. Joe's forward Halil Kanacevic hit a 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 50-47 lead. Villanova coach Jay Wright called a full timeout. As the teams exited the floor, Kanacevic turned to the Villanova student section and unleashed a not-even-trying-to-be-coy-about-it hand gesture that can be roughly translated to "We are not friends."

Naturally, any Wildcats fans who had slumped in their support were perked back to life again, with a new and seemingly thrilling mission: make Kanacevic's life miserable.

Whether it worked or not is up for debate, but Villanova did score six straight points after that timeout, and would eventually go on to win the game. Kanacevic missed two free throws with 45 seconds left in regulation (and the Hawks up by one), and Kanacevic made the final turnover of the game on St. Joe's last-ditched inbounds play.

The lesson, of course, is don't flip off another team's fans. Why? Because it's in obviously in poor taste -- someone think of the poor, innocent children! But also because in the Holy War you better come correct, and if you invite attention to yourself in a tight game you better be ready to handle it when the game is on the line. Otherwise, you become a moment, as Kanacevic surely will. And not in a good way.